Thursday, November 20, 2014

Too Tight

Yesterday I rode Melody for just a bit in the arena.  We didn't do much except lope circles and do some trotting.  She hardly worked up a sweat at all.  It was the first time I had ridden her since our long trek in the desert.

After the ride I was administering her daily massage and I noticed something.

Look closely at the musculature difference from left to right?  Do you see what I felt?

To pin point it more closely here is another picture with arrows.

In this picture she has her weight distributed evenly and is totally relaxed while eating.   The muscle on the right side is soooo tight and hard, where as on the left it is soft an relaxed.  The right side is the hip that she has trouble with.

So this leads me to a ton of questions?  Is she "tied up" ?  How long has she been this way?  Did I do this to her by taking her too far?  Was it from her and Killian kicking the crap out of each other?  Is this what has been causing her to walk funny all along OR is this a result of the compensation of the pain in her hip, or a pain in her hock.

Now she isn't walking any different than usual, so I'm hoping that would indicated that I didn't do this to her by pushing to hard.  I would feel terrible if that was the case.   But surely if she had been this way all along we would have caught it in her therapy sessions.  On the other hand, she has only had two sessions, and although we didn't catch this specifically we did catch that she was very sore in that area.

I guess I'm kind of at that "Which came first, the chicken or the egg" thing again.  

For now I am keeping her blanketed at night.  First horse I've ever had that loves a blanket.  And she has her Back on Track hock boots on, not that they actually hit the affected area, but at least they might be loosening the tendons down below.  I also took Sassy's knee boots and made a sort of impromptu stifle boot out of them.  Not sure if it is helping at all but it isn't hurting...well except for the part where she feels silly wearing it, but she will get over it.

My biggest questions is what next?  Light exercise combined with stretches and massage?  Or total stall rest combined with stretching and massage?

Has anyone else ever dealt with anything like this? I'd appreciate any input at all.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I love Arizona

This past week, Casper WY was the coldest place on the planet....literally.

Okay not THE coldest place but like 3rd coldest right behind Antarctica, and some place in Russia.

My friend sent me picture of his rear view mirror temp reading in his truck as he was driving home from work.


That was the norm for a few days. and even now it is still below 0.

Meanwhile I find myself a little chilly in the morning, sometimes needing a light hoody or long sleeves, but by 10 or so, I'm ready for short sleeves, sometimes even shorts.

I have been riding and have a great time.  Melody and I went about 10 miles the other day in the desert.  For those of you that saw my facebook post, it was a tad misleading.  While I said we did the full 10 miles in a long trot, that was actually not the case.  While we did trot a good portion of the way, it was only true long trotting when the walking horse was racking out.   My problem on facebook is that I only log on through my phone and it is to hard to explain myself, so I just post the short version.

I never pushed her harder than she was willing to go, and she did get a nice long break in the middle of the ride.

She also got a nice massage when we got home, and has gotten one every day since.

She climbed a couple of really big hills.

Big is a relative term. To her, they were huge. To Cody the trail machine, they were nothing.   Think "Levee" sized.

She also went down the hills which I find is good for teaching her to use her feet to work her way down instead of jumping up and down everything.

She was sure she was going to fall in that big stock tank

Looking like a real trail horse!

I am pretty sure that she is actually enjoying the new scenery.  She does best when there is another horse with her.  Eventually she will have to learn to go alone, but since she is new to it, I can give her a couple of concessions.

Now it is time for me to finish cleaning my house.....I'd rather be riding!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Guess Who I Saw Today?

I've really been missing my horse, and even trying to stay focused on the others wasn't really cutting it.  So finally I called DM and we set up a time for me to come and see how he is coming along.  

When I got there, she had just run inside to change shoes, so I went out to see Trax.   His living arrangements are much smaller than he is used too, but his stall opens up into a small round pen so he does have room to move around.   When I went to the gate he whinnied at me and came to see me.  Then when I opened the gate to go inside he turned away from me, and hid behind his own butt.  I said his name, and he turned for just a second and then looked away.  It is his pouting look.  I laughed pretty hard at him.  

DM came and got him and put him in cross ties.  


Who knew my horse would stand in cross ties?

She saddled him, and jumped right up on him.  No lunging, just got on and rode.  Of course he is getting ridden almost every day, so with that in mind I probably would have done the same.  But still it was odd to watch.  

It is odd to watch someone else ride my horse.

It is also very cool.  

Of course in his warm up stage he is less than responsive, but it really didn't take her long to get him on track.   She talked about how he has no clue where his feet are, or how to properly place his feet for anything that we are wanting him to do.   He doesn't know how to carry himself at all.  He does everything on his front end.

These are all things I have known for a while, and these are the things she is working on.  However I did take some time to explain to her this time about who he was when I got him.  I wanted her to to understand fully that while yes I do a lot of lateral work with him, and quite possibly even too much of it, there was a time when there was no lateral at all.  It was straight forward as fast as he could go and that was it.  If I had not spent the last 3 years just getting him to soften up mentally, she would have needed way more than 30 days to do anything with this horse.  But then that is what I need a trainer for.  My last training stopped at the lateral work and it is past time to move on to the next step. 

First she worked on his frame.  She would ask him to frame up by setting her hands and driving him with her legs. She never moved her hands but just kept bumping him with her legs.  The minute he lowered his head and picked himself up, she did not release her hands but released pressure with her legs.  Pretty soon he was carrying himself longer and longer, all on his own.  She asked and he held it until she asked for something different.

Then she worked on his turns.  His tendency has always been to turn on his front end.  I don't know if that is from team roping, or what, but it has always been what he has done. and I have been trying for a long time to teach him something different.  But I was doing it wrong.  

I watched as she moved him in a counter arched circle, and when he was smooth and easy crossing in front of himself in both the front and the back, then she was able to ask for a little more, and even I could see the beginning of a spin.  

As I watched her, what I saw was very much like what I remember Mark doing when I was working with him, only she was able to take it a step further.  

Then she loped and worked on teaching him to pick up his shoulder.  He has a tendency to want to lope with his shoulder dropped and one hip out, she asked him to lope in a straight line and pick up that shoulder. I could really see the difference.   Of course he still wants to throw his head up at the lope but she just set her hands and kept riding him into it, and eventually he carried it just like he is supposed too. 

Then she asked for the lead change and she got it the first try....on the front, but it took two full laps and a slap on the butt with the reins to get that hind end.  

Do any of you recall the last time I tried slapping Trax on the butt?

"YOU HIT ME!!!!!"  And then he took off at mach 9.

This was the repeat performance only her arena is not even half the size of mine so mach 9 was more like Mach 6. But clearly he was bothered by it and I said, "Yup you just lost him."  He was gone, his nose was straight up in the air.

She said, "Yes I did, but he'll be back" And she rode it out keeping her hands set and just kept asking for him to come back until he did, and then she released and he was fine.  

"The goal is to make that little tiny smack on the butt nothing more than a communication instead of a big deal."


She did some roll back work with him and I really can see the difference in him all ready. He is trying to use his hind end instead of doing everything on the front.  It is pretty awesome.  

So then she told me to get on him for just a minute.  She coached me on holding my hands steady and low, and using my legs and he melted right into my hands.  It was very cool.  We just trotted and walked around a little, and called it good.  He had already been working for an hour.  Mostly I just wanted to get a little feel for what he is becoming, and it feels nice.  

So after a week, she has done some really nice work with him.  She said that the one thing she likes about Trax is that once he "gets it" he gets it.  Where ever they left off at one day, is pretty much where they pick up the next day.   It is not a matter of going over it again and again and again.  

As we were hosing him down and putting him away, she says, "This is your one horse, isn't it?"  As in the one I am most connected too.  

I had to laugh....I guess I took it for granted that everyone who has ever met me already knew that.  

"Yes he is."

We all have the one horse who touches us someplace deep in our soul, and Trax is that horse for me.  He always has been, he always will be.  

Aww Shucks!

I have been trying to work with Melly more, and while I made progress the one day, it all fell away since then.  But I think I k now why.  First of all, that day was smooth like butter because she felt great.  She had just been worked on and all her parts were moving better.  

The very next day her and Killian got into a tiff in the pasture and I came out just in time to see them kicking the crap out of each other.  She now has two great big welts on each stifle.   I massage her every day, and try to keep her mobile as much as possible, but she is still a little stiff in the hind end again.  

Secondly the last time we did arena work I thought I was going to an ASHA clinic this Saturday (its been canceled) so I figured I'd better ramp up our obstacle work.  That was a bad idea.  She was so upset about the obstacles on the ground, she couldn't concentrate to do anything at all.  

So now I have a new approach.  

For now, at least, arena is reining and cow work.  But yesterday Simon and I took Killian and Melody to the desert.  It was her first time out there with me (perhaps even the first time ever).  She did pretty well, and I made a point of taking her through the dead trees and such to make sure she was stepping on lots of things.  She was bothered at first but then was more concerned about being left behind than being afraid.  

Her reaction to the first was was hilarious.  She said "no way"  I said, "Killian is leaving with out you."  She said, "Dammit"  and then jumped....not across but just down to the bottom.  Goofy horse.  But after that she watched her leader carefully and then followed in his foot steps. Pretty soon she was navigating them on her own and he was following her.  

All in all it was a great ride until I dropped my phone on my road and shattered it.  There went all my money for a new saddle pad! 

Here are a few pictures of the desert ride.  

She was not sure about all this cotton!

Killian of course was his usual awesome trail horse self.  He puts up with so much from Simon, and just handles it.  It is hard to see but he is actually getting in better shape.  He trotted the entire ride, without even trying to slow down.  That is progress for him.  

So my goal with Melly is to keep with the desert riding until it is boring for her and then I will set up poles and other obstacles out there, to where it is just part of what we do.  Then we will bring it back to the arena and see if it is easier for her.  It is really all I know to do at this point.  In the mean time, she will be my sorting horse, there is lots of that coming up and she is so darned good at it, and hopefully I will be better.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Keeping My Mind and Body Busy

Yesterday was a big day for all the equines at my house.

First were the therapy treatments.  We started with Melody, who has seemed stiff and awkward to me.  I wasn't sure if it was in my imagination or real.  It was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, very real.   As Dana started palpating and touching trigger points to see where the problem areas were, she found both shoulders sore, right hip was reactive but not as much as I expected.  However, when she touched the trigger point on the inside of her stifle, she almost lost a knee cap.  I have never seen Melly try to kick like that.  Clearly it was a problem area.

This sparked a memory in me of when the farrier was out the week before and put new shoes on her.  Usually Melly is relaxed and practically falls asleep during her "pedicure"  This time she struggled with holding up her hind legs, and the farrier was very careful to keep them as low as possible.

Dana worked on her for a long time. She also had two very tight muscle spots right over her hip point.  It is so cool to see the horses reactions when things feel better. Melly shakes her head, yawns, licks and chews and some times does a whole body shake.   The biggest reaction was after she worked on that right stifle area.  I swear if she could have said "OMG that feels good!" she would have.

The difference was amazing!  I walked her around some afterwards and she wasn't even dragging that back toe any more.  Melly is now on a once a month schedule just like Sassy.

Sassy was next, and we have made some major progress with her.  The scar tissue is no longer attached to the muscle.  I go out every day and massage that area and try to keep it loose.  She did have some pain there still, according to the machine.

It is interesting to watch the Magna wave machine do its thing.  If it is a problem area, the tissue will react, bouncing violently with each pulse.  If the area is already relaxed and there is no pain, there will be very little reaction at all with the pulse.

She had no reaction in the knee that I thought was bothering her.  Some reaction in the shoulder, some reaction in the foot.  Her chest area is always sore, I assume from compensating for the foot soreness.

What was really odd about this treatment was that we moved her before and we moved her after, and this time she was not better afterwards.  However the problem area was clearly located at the left front foot, so there is something else going....again.

I have been keeping on with her thrush treatment, and I am also going to treat her as if she is laminitic, just because I am out of options.  

(side note:  her pain in her foot doesn't seem to be too big of a problem for her. She had no issue with bum rushing her gate this morning and making a mad dash for the grass which she isn't allow to have!)

Then it was time to load up Trax and send him on his way.

The day before I decided to get one more ride on my boy before he left.  I swear he can read my mind.  I have not said to him, "Trax you are going away for a month." yet he sure acted like he knew.  He did everything he could to convince me that he doesn't need a trainer.  His stops were gorgeous.  I mean like "right now" gorgeous.  We loped big and small beautiful circles at he adjusted his speed according to my seat, and never once argued about anything.  We even played around with the barrels and gosh did we have fun!   He has a beautiful turn on the third barrel!

Even with that, I had made my decision and so yesterday he went. It was so hard to see him go.  I talked her ear off about him, making sure she knew all his little quirks, the things he likes, and doesn't like.  She finally laughed at me, and said, "I promise to take good care of him, and be nice to him."   Then he was gone.

In order to keep myself from missing him I decided to do some riding.  I rode Melody first and we worked on my lead change cues.  I must be getting it right because we did four smooth changes.  So smooth that I wasn't even sure she did them until I looked down and saw which leg she was leading with.  It was pretty awesome.   We also went over poles several times.  She is really coming along nicely.  I'm pretty excited.   (actually that should read "My riding skills are finally coming along nicely" since she already knows this stuff!")

Then I rode Killian. Rather than fight with him over arena work, I opted to just take him out and trot around the neighborhood.  As I get to know more and more people, this seems to be a challenge as I end up stopping and talking to folks as I ride.   Last night was no different!  I also met a new neighbor who was out scooping poop. He was an older cowboy, and we chatted for a bit.  I commented on his pretty paint horse, and he said, "Yeah he's pretty nice for an old guy."

I asked how old he was.



So there I am sitting on my 20 year old horse who does not look bad for his age, even though he is a little over weight.

This horse was built like a brick $h!t house, not an ounce of fat on him and his big and solid as any horse I have ever seen.    If you put him and Killian next to each other, it would be like comparing John Cena to Chris Farley.  Okay well maybe not quite like that, but you get the picture.

Next time I ride by there I will have to take his picture.  He truly is gorgeous!  My horse is going on an exercise program!

Anyway, so then I rode on home and as I was coming up my street I ran into another neighbor on her horse with her 3 dogs.  Killian doesn't care about dogs, he has been working side by side with them his whole life.  Even if they bark and run in and out of his feet, he does not care.  If they get stepped on...he also does not care. LOL

However, my kitty, Oscar, does care about those dogs very much and one of them chased him up to the top of a power pole, which is where he was perched when I cam a long.  The gal apologized, and I told her not to worry, he would come down when he was ready.

I put Killian away, and then walked back out front to check on Oscar.  I walked out just in time to see a huge owl take a swipe at my cat who was trying desperately to get the heck down off that pole before he became dinner.  I ran out and yelled at the owl who lighted on the high line and watched my kitty.  I started throwing rocks at the owl and yelling at him to leave. Oscar made it down and was hiding in the bushes in the neighbors pasture, but I couldn't get to him.  Finally the owl flew away, but I still could not get Oscar to come out of his hiding place.

Finally an hour later Oscar came in the house, no worse for wear, but he did stay in for the rest of the night.  I guess that was a little more excitement than he cared for in one night.

So my time now will be spent trying to keep myself busy with my other horses, so I am not missing my paint horse.  There is plenty to do, as always, so that shouldn't be so hard.

My trainer just called me and told me about her first ride. She said that I had really done all the hard work and that she feels she can do a lot to help Trax to take him to the next level.  Next week I will head down to her place and we will do a one on one, but she was very happy with the progress made in his first ride. Her first goal will be in how he carries himself.  He will carry himself correctly if asked too, but she wants him to do it on his own.  She feels that once he has that in place, the rest will come pretty easily.

I am excited to see the progress and hope that once he gets there, I can step up my riding skill to keep from letting him fall back into bad habits.

Now it is time to get to work.   Hope everyone is having a great week!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What I have been up to

It seems like forever since I have done a post.  It probably has been forever.  As much as I hate facebook, it seems like I spend most of my time there simply because I do a lot of selling on the horse pages there.  It is interesting where this new endeavor of mine is taking me. The friendships I am making are pretty awesome and I am finally starting to get my name out there as someone who has quality items at a fair price.  

I still only have two boarders, which to me is perfect.  It pays for my own horses food and my farrier bill too.  However, one of my boarders is back east right now, picking up a second horse, which will suit me just fine.  She wants her two horses to cohabitate in the big paddock that her other horse already lives in, so once we get them introduced and acclimated, that is where he will live. That negates me having to do any more fence building.  Plus, will bring in enough money to cover the special services that my ponies get (chiro and the such).

I had a big 2 day tack sale at my house this past weekend.  Sold quite a bit and handed out a ton of cards.  Now even more folks know I am here, and that is a good thing.  I think the most exciting sale for me was the Colorado Saddlery saddle I have. 

It was exciting not in the sense of, "Thank god this thing is finally leaving." But exciting because someone besides me, saw it and thought, "Wow, that is a gorgeously made saddle, even if it is old."  the folks that bought it are just getting back into horses.  It fit the lady perfectly, and they were happy to be able to put it on a layaway plan.  Her horse is a little narrower too so it should fit just fine.  She looked at others, but they kept coming back to this one, saying it was the one.  I am so happy about that.  Silly, I know.  

In horsey news...well there hasn't been much.  I've done a little riding in the arena, here and there, but need to get back to doing more.  However I have another sale to go to this weekend, and still have to get my mobile trailer put together, so yet another week will have to go by without much riding.  

However, My new trainer worked with me and Melody on our lead changes, and I do believe we are finally getting the hang of it...well I am, she has always had the hang of it.  One of the biggest problems was me not collecting her up for the change.  Once I understood that, thing got much better. 

Sassy, threw me for a loop last week.  I had tried an experiment with some low wedges, and quickly realized that they weren't working so well.  I had the farrier pull them, now she is back to just shoes on the front.  But then I noticed that she was hobbling on that left front. I do go out and massage that shoulder when ever I am around her, but she hasn't gotten much exercise since the night she went to the sorting and got to hang out with all the grown up horses like a big girl.  

I was completely at a loss for what I needed to do for her, but then a light came on.  I looked at her heels.  Sure enough, she was developing another deep crack on that left front medial heel.  I got out my ACV and started treating. Today I let her out to meander around the property and trim the grasses around the trees, and she is doing much better already.  She had been standing in some mud for a about a week (because someone keeps leaving the water on by accident- that would be me) and the mud and the moisture where getting up underneath that wedge.  The wedge is gone now and I can still treat her with the shoes on.  

Killian...he's just Killian.  My big easy going guy.  

Trax is leaving tomorrow.  He is going with my trainer for 30 days.  Once again I have reached a brick wall in our training, and I need help.  I trust her, and I think he will do just fine there and hopefully come home with a few new buttons.  The three things I will ask her to focus on is collection, stops and lead changes.  I would love it if she could get him started on spins too.  But I don't think we have the foundation for those yet.  So if she can get the foundations going for me, then together when he comes home we will build from there. Once he gets home, and even while he is there, the lessons will continue for me, both on him and on Melody.  

So here is the thing.  A great fancy reiner, he will never be.  Well I don't think anyway...he may surprise us all, but I won't hold my breath.  But since I am getting into sorting more, all the things I am hoping she can teach him are things that are helpful in sorting.  I do still want to do the ASHA and NRVA as well. So that is what I am hoping for, better foundation so we can move forward in those things.  If she works with him for a month and just can't get anywhere with him, then I will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that his job in life is to carry me up the side of a mountain.  That will be that, and it will be enough.   But I don't think its going to happen like that.  I think she will bring him along nicely.  I think she will because I  saw the huge changes in him with just the little bit of work that Mark Keil did on him.  She is as good a trainer as Mark, actually I think she might be better.  I know she has been doing it longer and has done a larger variety of riding disciplines.  All of which will be helpful.  

While he is there, I will still be here working with Melody, learning to keep my HANDS STILL, and use my legs, and butt in the saddle instead of bouncing all over the place.  Killian will take Trax's place as my trail horse for the month, which will be excellent for him.  I'm sure he will disagree, but he will feel better when it is all said and done.  Also I will keep working with Sassy.  \

I sure will miss my paint horse though.  

Tomorrow is treatment day for the mares, and then sometime soon we will be holding a Therapy clinic here, introducing folks to the magna-wave therapy that I have been using on Sassy.  

So there it is, that is what has been happening with me.  Now time to go catch up on everyone's blogs to find out what you have all been up too!